I have long loved the beautiful, pastoral portraits of the Georgian Era. Women and children posed in fields and beneath trees painted by artists like Thomas Gainsborough marked a departure from the stiffer, more formal portraits of a generation before. Some of my favorite paintings are by George Romney and Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun (you can view several in the slideshow gallery above).
When I created the Girls’ 1780s Portrait Dress pattern, I knew I’d want to follow up with a women’s version–and hundreds of customer requests confirmed that! The construction of the dresses offered in this pattern comes from the study of dozens of portraits, plus scrutiny of extant gowns for women from this time period, but I’ve stuck with conventional machine techniques in the instructions to allow for ease of sewing. If you are a die-hard who wants an authentic gown, I do have an appendix with all the vintage sewing steps laid out in detail.
This pattern includes options for a smooth-bodice dress that fastens up the front, a polonaise with pointed bodice front, and a drawstring bodice dress that slips over the head. It also offers elbow-length sleeves with optional ruffles and fitted long sleeves. Please note that correct underpinnings are required for views 1 and 2.
- Sizes 6-26 all included in one envelope.
- Illustrated instructions with appendices on authentic 18th-century sewing techniques and correct underpinnings.
- This pattern was designed over stays made from the Mantua Maker’s Georgian Stays pattern. It will also work over the excellent stays pattern from Red Threaded. Views 1 and 2 will not fit without correct underpinnings!
- The drawstring dress option will work over conventional modern underthings if you prefer.
- Click to download the Ladies’ 1780s Portrait Dress Chart.
- ePattern available for instant download.
This pattern is rated advanced intermediate because of the sewing knowledge and fitting skills required. If you can make a Regency gown, you are ready to move on to this pattern, and I am always available through the Contact Form if you have questions!
IMPORTANT CORRECTION: A customer caught an error in this pattern on 12/27/10. The sleeve instructions say to match the crossed circles, but you actually don’t need to do that. It’s the girl’s version of this pattern that has the crossed circles. To match the sleeves properly, you only need to start at the armhole angle by matching the sleeve corner (with a 5/8″ overlap as illustrated). Pin around the smooth side of the sleeve until you reach the “leftover” portion that needs to be pleated. Pleat into place and finish at the corner. That’s it! If you purchased this pattern after June 2011, the instructions are already corrected.